Santa is coming to town and one of his official first stops is just a short drive from downtown DC. Enjoy a meet-and-greet with Ol’ St. Nick at the B&O Railroad Museum for a festive start to the holiday season. Looking for something a little more socially distant? Head to Annapolis for an epic drive through a 3-D holiday light display. If you’re skipping a visit to Santa this year, be sure to drop him a letter (thanks, Nordstrom!) or, better yet, log on and chat with the Big Guy himself (for free!). Read on for more ways to get your merry, merry on this weekend.

 

photo: iStock

IN-PERSON EVENTS

Welcome Santa to Town 
Kick off the holiday season with Santa’s arrival on the B&O No. 6944 train in Baltimore! St. Nick’s locomotive will pull into the B&O Railroad Museum’s spacious Roundhouse, creating the perfect opportunity to take the first festive photos of the season. Fri. Event details. 

Send a Letter to Santa
Your kids have been so good, and Santa needs to know all about it. This is your kiddo’s chance to drop hints on the gifts topping their wish list. Santa’s even accepting emails this year. You can shoot Santa an email via Nordstrom.com or print out a special “Dear Santa” sheet for a curbside drop off at a Nordstrom store at the following locations: The Mall in Columbia, Montgomery Mall, Towson Town Center, The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City or Tysons Corner Center. Fri.-Sun. Event details. 

Hop on the Zoolights Express
This year, the zoo will come to you! The National Zoo’s beloved Zoolights won’t take place on property this year. But you can catch the 24-foot Zoolights Express truck, outfitted with lights galore, to bring a little bit of the festivities to your hood. A special guest, Panda Claws, will be on board to wish you a very happy holiday season. Catch Panda Claws in Ward 1 on Frid., Nov. 27 and Ward 2 on Sat., Nov. 29. For a route map for each ward, go here. Fri.-Sat. Event details. 

Drive-Thru a 3-D Holiday Display 
Grab your footed pajamas and a thermos of hot chocolate; this light display is a drive-thru attraction that features over two miles of lights along the Chesapeake Bay. Lights on the Bay boasts over 70 animated and stationery exhibits. For an additional fee, guests can purchase 3-D glasses for a truly unique experience. Fri.-Sun. Event details. 

Double Feature: Take in a Tree Lighting & a Movie
Make Christmas special by heading to the waterfront for the tree lighting and s’mores by the fire pit. While you are there, check out a movie at the pop-up movie theater. Flicks are screened Fri.-Sun. and occasionally on weeknights. You can catch Home Alone after the tree lighting; other holiday offerings include ElfThe GrinchTerry Perry’s A Madea Christmas and The Polar Express (Editor’s note: The showing of Home Alone has now sold out, but tickets are still available for other upcoming shows).  A little word to the wise: carpool (parking is hard-to-find) and come early if you can for a good viewing spot. Fri. Event details. 

VIRTUAL EVENTS

Chat with Santa for Free
This time of year just doesn’t feel complete without a visit with Santa. Steering clear of the mall? Hop online for a free 10-minute virtual visit with Santa. And what would a visit to Santa be without the photo opp? Chatbooks will take your photo with Santa and provide a code to print your photo (free of charge) as a holiday card or add it to a Chatbooks photo book. Fri.-Sat. Event details. 

Spread Joy Around the World (Virtually) 
Wishing you could find a way to celebrate the holidays with friends and family? Join Watson Adventures on a virtual sleigh ride across the internet! This virtual scavenger hunt takes you to holiday markets and festivals, amazing museums and many scenic places around the world, in search of answers to fun, holiday-related questions. Whether it’s for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or even Boxing Day, it’s a fun game to unite families and friends. Fri.-Sun. Event details. 

The Nutcracker Online
Watch SF Ballet’s spectacular Nutcracker stream in HD, tour our virtual opera house full of fun activities, send downloadable holiday snaps to your friends and family, enjoy historical highlights of San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker, and learn steps from the choreography. You can even check off items on your gift list with a visit to SF Ballet’s online Holiday Shop! Sat. Event details. 

—Meghan Yudes Meyers